I grew up in a small village in the New Forest with my parents and sister. Initially, I went to school in the village but my secondary schooling was in nearby Bournemouth. It was a catholic school run by De la Salle Order Brothers. It was very academic and took pride in its rugby and cricket. It was the very finest in over-disciplined, all-male education with a religious twist. In some areas it provided liberation and a sense of purpose to the young adolescent; for the most part it was a deeply dull experience without girls. As a budding young creative - wildly interested in music, haircuts and meeting girls - I found it a stifling environment lacking excitement. I felt attracted to the Visual Arts, yet these were taught with hobby status in mind. There was certainly never any suggestion of making a career as an artist. The only worthwhile careers involved academic qualification and so, whilst not really taking art seriously as a subject, The Brothers applied restrictive policy to art classes. Figurative imagery was encouraged at all times and all imaginative thinking involving abstraction was the work of The Devil. I have very strong feelings about the way in which childrenâ€™s creative talents are recognised and nurtured within our education system. Anyway, I can't complain: the strict nature of the place gave us something to push against and in my final year the school amalgamated with a convent and became a mixed wonderland; powered by pop music and teenage sexual energy. Needless to say, I left school with very few academic qualifications.
My very first experience of music was through my dad's record collection. Some of it was appalling and to this day I find the sound of Al Jolson's voice incredibly disturbing. My father is a collector of books and music and whilst his taste in music is not mine, what I did learn from his enthusiasm was the art of discovery and how to search feverishly for new material. As a teenager, exposure to pop music came from my best friendâ€™s older brother. Dark, angry pop made by white kids, street funk made by black kids. I'm eternally grateful for such an introduction to music. He was a little older than us and was in a band. He had his own car and his own keys and was our hero. Initially, we learnt through him. Bournemouth is a conservative little town on the south coast of England. There was a small alternative scene made up of soul boys, punks, mods, rockabillies, new romantics and people that had been to King's Road. It was a small yet fascinating group and although identities existed within, we all trod the same stage. It was all about clothes and music. The dramatic contrast in appearances were echoed in the eclectic selection of music. Week- in, week-out we would squash into a tiny little club called The Third Side where a strange queen called Tweedy would play whatever he fancied. I don't really think he saw himself as a DJ: DJs were, after all, wankers who talked to the dancefloor through a microphone and played chart music. This was something entirely different. This was someone who had been to London to buy his records and didn't give a shit what people thought of the music; and besides, he was tripping most of the time. The selection was varied to say the least: The B-52's, Joy Division, Carl Perkins, War, Hendrix, The Slits, Marc Bolan, The Clash, Prince Charles and the City Beat Band, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Fad Gadget, The Associates, Gene Vincent, Dillinger, The The and Kraftwerk all coming at you one after another with everyone taking turns to dance on a floor the size of a bedsit. I'm eternally grateful for such an introduction to music as a teenager.
In 1986 I studied at Bournemouth Art School and in 1987 I realised a dream by moving to London to study at St. Martinâ€™s School of Art. This led to a further two years of study at the Royal College of Art. On graduation I accepted various commissions in painting, photography and graphic design from clothing designer Paul Smith, Absolut Vodka, Sapporro beer, and dancer Michael Clark. I made illustrations for book covers and sold paintings to people I didn't like, but for the most part I found working commercially to be very restrictive. Making work to order felt compliant and uninspiring. It almost always resulted in my arguing with the client. During college my intentions had been to make a living as a painter; to live the life of a fine artist working out of a studio and supporting myself by selling my work. This proved to be a deluded, romantic and impractical vision. I soon realised that it is important for the graduate art student to apply his learning to a system of observation suitable for everyday life. As time has passed I have realised that I would have certainly struggled as a painter. After much soul searching - and a stint as a night watchman - I started Georgie in 1993. it was named after legendary hedonist Georgie Best, a hero of mine at the time. They were ticket-only, highly decorated parties in interesting and unusual spaces around London (and once on Hastings Pier). Most of the parties were held in Park Royal Film Studios. We thought it was terribly posh and funny having glamorous parties on an industrial estate. They were wild times and, for a while, we really were under the radar. But after a few busts - including one particularly ugly example of police crowd control at Riverside Studios - I decided to stop organising events. I'm very proud to have organised them, they were very much of a time. And a fucking outrageous time at that.
LABEL AND PRODUCTION
My label is Tyrant. I produce under the name scumdolly. Apparently, 2004 will see the beginnings of a â€˜realâ€™ label. I keep getting sidetracked; too much travelling and too many parties; too much thinking, not enough doing. Every so often I turn out a remix but never a body of work. I need to apply myself a little more. I'm making drawings now with record covers in mind and I have a few pieces of music ready.
Ive been playing records at parties since I was eighteen which, annoyingly, is nearly twenty years ago. In those days owning a large quantity of records was enough to secure a gig. Technical skills were not a requirement, one simply had to get from one tune to another. DJing was merely an extension of one's record collecting and an excuse for you to wear an old suit and a kipper tie. Occasionally one had a professional engagement, but the purse for my services would normally be an 'all you can drink' arrangement and a lift home with one of the glass collectors. There was no money to speak of and certainly no real status. DJ booths were almost always tiny and in a dank, unappealing corner of the club. Record boxes were cardboard boxes. It certainly wasn't much to aspire to unless you were wildly keen on the music. At the time I was overwhelmed by the extraordinary dynamic created by music played loud on a soundsystem. Lights turned off and everything, that was enough for me. Having grown out of Bournemouth I applied to art school in London. I had always planned to move here and in I987 I did. This was the start of a wonderfully experimental time. I worked very hard at college but we partied hard too. St Martins had a particularly suitable coffee bar. The Pistols played their first ever gig in that room and that was enough for us. We had some crazy parties in there. Charing Cross Road as well, if you don't mind. I used to love playing at these because there was always such a mad bunch of people in the room. London had so many specialist record shops I was picking up all sorts of sounds and loving all of it. I spent every penny I could on records and even if I had no money I would hang out in the shop listening to what was being played. I just loved record shops and I still do. I guess it was during this period that my jazz funk twelves and old funk sevens started to get mixed up with electronic music of the time. Joyce Sims out of Fela Kuti, that kind of thing. House music was exploding and this created even more disarray and tempo change within my sets. I only ever had one eck so I could never practice. My style was random and eclectic and without any sense of reason but it didn't really matter to me because I wasn't a real DJ. In fact, it was much later that I purchased another deck and a mixer that I began to replace my random and clumsy delivery with a more considered and tidy approach to programming music and subsequently beat mixing it. Nowadays I take pride in my technical ability but I take it for granted. Itâ€™s all about juxta position - sequence and selection. Throwing records together haphazardly is one approach, carefully constructing and considering a set of music is another. Both interpretations are about 'what comes next'. For me the most enjoyable aspect of DJing is finding the music and then placing it in context. It's a delightful method of sharing and one that I never tire of. My least favourite aspect of the working experience is the concept of performance - the idea that one would might perform in some way. Most people who have witnessed the visual extravaganza created by my playing records in a darkened room will realize that it's better to listen than look. However, if someone finds it engaging to stare at a short guy with a receding hairline and a face like a smacked arse I can accept that. I 'm not sure when it was that I became somebody who wanted to be a real DJ. More and more people were asking to me play records but I felt restricted by lack of technical ability and this coupled with the fact that
I would get really out of it whilst playing made for quite a picture at times. I co-promoted a night called Freaky Disco at The Cross and then subsequently at the Soundshaft. Terry Francis and I were residents. By now the other deck and mixer was starting to pay off and I found that by counting to four and tapping my foot in time with the beat I could mix.
Astonishingly, the whole thing started to make sense as a disjointed yet constant flow of music. That year at Freaky Disco Terry Francis and Derrick Carter blew my mind to such a degree I was consumed by the desire to mix records. I realised that by beat matching you can get from one sound to another. Fantasy remained intact by discreetly changing from one track to another. I was completely hooked; after years of being totally absorbed by music, after years of DJing, suddenly I wanted to be more than a guy with a great record collection. I wanted to be a real DJ. Shortly after the demise of Freaky Disco, Terry and I were offered our residencies at Fabric.
I am very aware of how fortunate I am to have the residency. There are no restrictions and I am allowed total freedom to play the music I choose in any of Fabricâ€™s three rooms at any point during the evening. All have amazing soundsystems: What more could I ask for? The audience is incredibly responsive and open-minded so what I choose to play is very much up to me. Being at the club every week gives me the chance to experiment with different sounds and, whilst I accept that I am prone to occasional bouts of self indulgence, for the most part I try to keep people dancing. I love the venue and consider it to be one of the finest places on the planet to listen to electronic music. There is an astonishing array of worldwide talent passing through the place and I'm very lucky to see these people play on a regular basis. I'm very proud to be involved with such an inspiring project.
The immediate future is governed by the imminent birth of my son or daughter. I have no idea how I will feel when the baby is born and to what degree having a child will affect my life. I'm incredibly excited; Iâ€™m certain the sound of tiny feet will bring new feelings of creativity. I plan to start painting again - I have been drawing already and the camera is at the ready - I have some music I'd like to get out of my system and the Tyrant label has been on the back burner for ages so I must commence business. However, to quote the fridge magnet my Mum gave me as a birthday present, 'Anyone can be a father, it takes a lot to be a daddy.' That's the most important thing right now.